by Adam Strobejko
Let’s face it: our society is boringly predictable. All you have to do is to memorize and follow a set of behavioural guidelines, which will help you to blend in. While decency and virtue definitely pay off on emotional and logical levels, curiosity remains. It makes us wonder obtrusively: where is the dividing line and how black could the dark side be?
Returning from another day at work/the university/fill -it-yourself, you think: “Hey, it would be so nice to watch this new documentary about washing the dishes in a foreign country.” or “Let’s watch this new series on maths problems. And Morgan Freeman is the narrator!”.
As far as I’m concerned, most of my acquaintances watch shows depicting:
– a serial killer in action (Dexter)
– two life losers who turn to cooking crystal meth in a pathetically brilliant quest of “living free or dying” (Breaking Bad)
– Game of Thrones. Seriously, I won’t ever dare to make a comment on the amount of filthy stuff they put in there.
What is wrong and shall I be afraid?
Let me start of by clarifying some things. We are talking from the perspective of mentally-stable adults who are able to perceive the true meaning of a, sometimes blurred, script of art. Children are not taken into consideration, as they are not legally eligible to have any knowledge on the discussed content. Whether this is true on the factual level and safe at the same time is a topic for separate series/books. Personally, I have tried to stay updated ever since I’ve learned the noble art of verbal communication and I do not feel like an outlaw suffering from the overload of stimuli. Actually, these voices are the only problem. And they make me do things, y-y-you know?
OK, let’s just say that when you’re a child, it’s better to connect pleasure with education. And I strongly believe to be heavily influenced by Franklin the Turtle up until this very day.
However, this is not the point and I take the Diplomat readers for something more than that. To start with a clear note, a connection between art and morality is a doubtful one. Violence and evil have become independent means of aesthetics in modern culture. They are used accordingly to the author’s needs and most of them have lost their connection to reality.
Let’s have a look at Tarantino movies. Dismemberment, blood, shot-outs and drugs all accompanied by classical rock and beautiful women equipped with katanas running around in high heels. Whatever it is, it makes us smile.
“Dexter” makes us understand the world of a serial killer. Worrisomely, we start to understand and like the main character. This specific case of Stockholm syndrome is stimulated by the fact that he poses for a psycho-superhero by using a code and striking down the villains where the authorities fail to act. What we like is justice in the most trivial sense.
Recent Grand Theft Auto V premiere was also on the spot of public scrutiny. All this violence, drugs and sexism may obviously have a negative impact. We just tend to forget that it is a satire for our very world.
Obviously, the praiseworthy school of realism still prevails. Dating back to the times when old masters attended balls or just sat beneath a tree in the glorious quest of mastering the human soul, the public interest in the reality has not ceased. And the point about our existence is that the evil and suffering exist.
Talking about how sweet and shiny “Downton Abbey” is would be too simple. “Breaking Bad” and, however strange that sounds, “The Song of Ice and Fire” (“Game of Thrones”) may still serve as examples of the implementation of realism into the modern pop-culture.
The former depicts a regular middle class teacher with a hint of genius drowned into the banality of everyday’s problems. An everyman with whom we can actually associate and develop a personal bound, despite the radical immorality of his acts. The society is not lost, however, as most of the people end up supporting Jesse and his adoration for female dogs.
Concerning the latter, Westeros from Game of Thrones we watch/read about is “[…] another world, but not so different from the world I know” as Tyrion Lannister himself put it. The purpose is to describe a human experience as it is; a kharmatic chain of cause and result sequences. After all, everything is a shade of gray, isn’t it?
I do deeply believe that a reasonable person may draw independent conclusions by reading through the lines and observing the logic behind. We may eventually learn not necessarily what to do, but rather what to avoid. This can prove to be a basis of the immense wisdom. If not, cooking meth and getting bald is always a possibility. A reasonable person would find it easier to watch than to do, though. Especially the bald part.
In conclusion, the modern culture is not in any way more foul or cheap than it was before. Literary genres dealing with the darkness existed long before us and, boy, you would be afraid when confronted with the blackest ideas of Les Poètes maudits. Let’s not play a silly part in this group-delusion of self-proclaimed moralists, seeking to disturb the reality with their lovely utopias. After all, Lenin also had good intentions. And sometimes, by getting closer to the dark side on the artistic level, we start to need and appreciate more the caring stability of the light in our lives.
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